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Strikeforce Isn’t Fucking Around

Language from Frank Shamrock’s Pro Elite contract. Props to Captain for the find.

There has been a lot of discussion as of late over whether the Pro Elite fighter contracts are transferable or not. Assuming this language is standard in all Pro Elite contracts, the debate can finally come to an end: Pro Elite has the exclusive right to assign, license, or transfer a fighter’ s rights without a figher’s consent or approval.

What does this mean in plain English? It means that Pro Elite can pretty much do whatever the fuck they want with the fighter’s contracts, without asking the fighter what he thinks. Before you jump out of your seat and go on an alcohol fueled tirade about personal autonomy, remember that the fighters agree to stipulations like this before they sign the dotted line. On top of that, language like this is pretty standard. So don’t get your panties in a bunch.

There have also been a lot of comparisons made to the Zuffa acquisition of PRIDE, where the fighter contracts were not transferable (hence the reason why Fedor isn’t wearing UFC gold). Then why are they allowed to be transferred in this case? Simple. Any agreement is subject to the language of the contract so as long as the language of the contract itself isn’t illegal and, therefore, unenforceable. The general rule, if a contract is silent on the matter, is that personal service contracts are not transferrable. Here, the contract is not silent. Instead, it explicitly states that a fighter’s agreement with Pro Elite can be transferred, no questions asked.

As for the language about “unreasonableness,” that basically means that for a fighter to not give his consent to a bout, it would have to be in a situation that was entirely unforeseeable to the fighter when he signed on, to the point that a court would agree with him. Situations that would probably fall under the “unreasonable” category would be if the organization wanted to have the fighter drop 20% of their body weight for a bout, have them fight in North Korea when they were expecting to stay in North America, or get a sex change and fight Gina Carano on network TV. Fighting under a banner that says ‘Strikeforce’ instead of ‘EliteXC’ is not going to be deemed “unreasonable” in terms of common sense or in a court of law.

After the jump, thoughts on the future of the organization.

What this means is good news for MMA fans: Strikeforce wasn’t bullshitting. They have just shelled out a bunch of cash for the Pro Elite roster and, in doing so, have officially become the number two organization in the United States, and arguably the world. The company can add names like Robbie Lawler, Gina Carano, Jake Shields, Nick Diaz, Bigfoot Silva, and Scott Smith to a roster that already includes Cung Le, Frank Shamrock, Josh Thomson, and Babalu Sobral.

Considering Scott Coker’s newly acquired stable of fighters and the television agreements with both CBS and Showtime, as well as his past track record as a succesful and smart promoter, Strikeforce could do what Gary & Jared aspired to do but failed at miserably: compete with Zuffa. It won’t happen overnight, but if anyone is going to be able to learn from the mistakes of the IFL, BoDog, EliteXC, Yamma, etc., it’s going to be the company that has slowly gone from holding regional shows (Shamrock v. Gracie) to pay-per-view spectacles (Shamrock v. Baroni) and now to cards that will appear on both network television and premium cable.

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